While it is possible to do tele-therapy via email or phone, contemporary telemental health sessions typically use video chat. The therapeutic process is like in-person therapy. It usually begins with a few initial sessions during which the therapist and client get to know one another and discuss treatment goals. After that, the therapist may dig more deeply into the client’s issues, make recommendations for behavioral changes, and encourage the client to reflect on their emotions.
The therapist may ask the client to take steps to ensure confidentiality. These might include:
- logging on from a private network
- keeping their computer locked to prevent others from viewing the session
- accessing therapy via an encrypted therapy platform
Clients should also ask their therapists what specific steps they take to protect client confidentiality and prevent third parties from viewing sessions or session notes.
Who can provide tele-therapy?
Although anyone can offer to support another person online or over the phone, only licensed professionals can describe their services as therapy. Clinicians can call themselves therapists, depending on the state in which they work.
Some examples of professionals who may provide tele-therapy include:
- licensed professional counselors
- licensed marriage and family therapists
- licensed clinical social workers
- licensed psychologists
- licensed psychiatrists
Important information on tele-therapy
State licensing rules vary, but a therapist must generally hold a license in the state where they treat the client. This rule means that a clinician who holds a license in Tennessee may not be legally allowed to treat a client who lives in California. Providers should check with the licensing board in the client’s home state to identify their ethical and legal duties.
Summary Tele-Therapy is an ideal option for people who find it difficult to access therapy in person. It is also an excellent option for slowing the spread of illness, for example, during the COVID-19 pandemic or in the flu and cold season.
As with other health services, quality treatment gets better results. A person should work with their therapist to devise an effective course of treatment that offers the most benefits.